By Kurt Ritzman
Assistant Sports Editor
Clinton didn’t play its best match Thursday night in its Class 5A volleyball tournament opener. But the River Queens didn’t have much to worry about as they didn’t face a deficit until Game 3 of their 25-14, 25-20, 25-17 sweep of Dubuque Senior.
“We were a little off tonight,” Clinton senior Alyssa Wing said. “We still got the job done and swept them. We’re moving on to play Bettendorf Tuesday. That’s what we came to do. We came to win, and we got it done. But we probably could have done it better.”
Clinton (21-9, ranked sixth) faces Bettendorf (19-11, ranked seventh) on Tuesday with a berth in the state tournament on the line.
“We know we’ll need to play a better match against Bettendorf,” Clinton coach Mark Massey said.
Erin Wenzel served to begin the match for Clinton. Wing drilled a kill on the first point, and Elle Tubbs and Monique Harris combined on a block to put Clinton ahead 2-0.
After dropping a point, Clinton took a 5-1 lead and sailed through the rest of the game, never letting Senior closer than three points.
“You get into a tournament situation and anything can happen,” Massey said. “I’m firmly convinced that we are the better team. Dubuque Senior, they’re big at the net. They cause people problems. ... We’re not worried about the point spread. We’re worried about the ‘W.’ ”
Griffin Rasche served an ace on game point and then served another ace in Game 2 that gave Clinton game point.
“Griffin was a pretty efficient server tonight,” Massey said. “She has that tennis background. She goes back and serves with a purpose.”
To start Game 2, Wing had a solo block. The next point was a Wing kill, which gave her 1,048 for her career, breaking Riki Stahl’s school record. She finished with a match-high 16, making the record 1,059 currently.
“I didn’t want to focus on the record,” Wing said. “I figured it was going to happen tonight because I only needed five. I’ve never gotten lower than five. I didn’t want to make it all about myself. I wanted to think about the team and us moving forward in regionals. In the back of my mind, I was just thinking state. That’s our main goal.”
Wing extended the record on the next point, and Tubbs served an ace to put Clinton ahead 4-0.
Senior (13-23) closed the gap to 13-11 on three consecutive kills by Angela Wagner. Clinton couldn’t pull away, but Senior couldn’t fully close the gap either.
“This was a good team win,” Massey said. “Any tournament win is an awesome win.”
Senior grabbed its first lead in Game 3, going ahead of Clinton 6-4. But a service error by the Rams and back-to-back aces by Wing gave the River Queens a lead they would not relinquish.
Clinton went ahead 19-13 on a kill by Tubbs, but Senior kept it to that margin until a 22-17 River Queen lead. Then Dubuque Senior committed a hitting error, followed by a combined block from Tubbs and Devin Matheny to bring up match point. Wenzel knocked down her 13th kill to end the match.
“I thought serving carried us through,” Massey said. “We did a good job of taking them out of system in Game 1 and Game 3. I really liked the way we passed-serve.”
Clinton had more than a week off since the regular season ended.
“It was a little difficult,” Wing said. “We’re used to having something every Tuesday. Before that we had something every Tuesday and Saturday. One week we had Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, then Tuesday again. We’re used to playing a lot.”
Wing said the River Queens changed up practice to counteract the layoff.
“These last few practices, we’ve been working really hard,” she said. “We had some game-like drills. We moved a few girls up off of freshmen and sophomores, so we could scrimmage. ... That helps us a lot because we can do six-on-six stuff. We’ve been staying focused and working hard, not moping around and being like, ‘We have practice again. We don’t have a game.’ ”
CLINTON 25-25-25, DUBUQUE SENIOR 14-20-17
Kills — Senior (Angela Wagner 13, Sammie Osterberger 5, Allie Osterberger 4); Clinton (Alyssa Wing 16, Erin Wenzel 13, Monique Harris 3); Assists — Senior (Alysa Bauer 18); Clinton (Harris 27, Devin Matheny 3). Ace serves — Senior (S. Osterberger 2, Mackenzie Robey 1, Ashton Stoppelmoor 1, Wagner); Clinton (Wing 4, Wenzel 2, Griffin Rasche 2, Elle Tubbs 2, Marquel Schultheis 2). Blocks — Senior (Wagner 3, S. Osterberger 3, A. Osterberger 2, Ellie Peterson 2); Clinton (Wing 2, Tubbs 2, Matheny 1, Schultheis 1, Harris 1). Digs — Clinton (Harris 16, Gabby Haan 12, Wing 9, Shannon Shovlain 8, Tubbs 7).